**** (Four stars)
Aicha, a girl of traditional Turkish heritage, joins an elite coed kung fu team in her family's adopted city of Copenhagen. This move exposes her not only to competitive martial-arts training under guidance of Shi Fu (Xian Gao, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon), but also to supercute Emil (Cyron Melville), whose verboten love she can only return via tension-fraught fight sequences.
The film's emphasis on physical movement over excessive dialogue is reminiscent of kinetic fare like Bend it Like Beckham (with less levity) or Run Lola Run (including the technolike music). Beautiful choreography, dramatic slow-motion shots and Aicha's recurring nightmares, in which she grapples with a faceless opponent, add emotional tension. Fighter is also a story of clashing cultural norms: Aicha’s kung fu–disapproving Middle Eastern parents and Denmark’s Western acceptance of pursuing individual ambitions.
The film is geared more toward an adolescent audience and tackles many themes specific to that age. But overall it is also fiercely acted, engaging and delicate in addressing the complex issue of racial assimilation.—Flannery Hill, online editorial intern
[This is a TONY staff review, written for the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. It is not considered an official review and should not be read as such. Please think of it as a casual impression from a movie-loving friend.]